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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

What Is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in New York?

Losing a loved one through someone else's wrongful act or negligence is one of the most difficult things a person can face. Car accidents, workplace injuries, and medical malpractice are some examples of potentially fatal incidents that leave family members facing the wrongful death of someone they love.

To ensure justice and secure the compensation owed on the victim's behalf, the wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations. Letting too much time pass is not an option, so it is crucial to move quickly in the wake of tragedy.

What is the New York wrongful death statute of limitations, and what does it mean for anyone planning to submit a wrongful death claim?

The General Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in New York State

The General Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in New York State

The wrongful death statute of limitations in New York is two years from the date of death. Date of accident is not the most important factor in wrongful death claims, as some victims may succumb to their injuries sometime after.

This rule is different from a general personal injury lawsuit. Most personal injury cases have a three-year statute of limitations, with the three years beginning from the date of the accident.

What It Means for Bereaved Families Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

New York wrongful death cases, under the general rule, must be officially submitted before the deadline. It is still possible to make an insurance claim, but family members will not be able to proceed with their wrongful death case in court after the statute of limitations expires.

Without the possibility of a legal trial, a negligent party is less likely to accept the claim, and insurance companies have significantly less incentive to offer a settlement. Even if they do, the chances are they will only make a low-ball offer far below the value of the claim.

Don't Delay

It is essential to begin the legal proceedings on a New York wrongful death lawsuit promptly following a loved one's death. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help put together a case, collect evidence, and ensure a strong and timely start for surviving family members and their claims. They are also able to help with the construction accident statute of limitations in New York.

When Does the Two-Year Statute of Limitations Not Apply to Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

While most wrongful death claims are bound by the general rule of two years from the date of death, there are some exceptions of note. Although rare, the following circumstances alter the maximum timeframe for a wrongful death action.

Medical Malpractice Claims

A medical malpractice case is when an injury or death is caused by the negligence of a medical professional. These are often extremely complex cases that take time to build, so the statute of limitations is extended.

The statute of limitations for wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuits in New York is two years and six months from the date of death.

In some cases, the two years and six months can be delayed to the date of discovery- but this is quite rare. This rule only applies if it does not become known (or reasonably apparent) that the wrongful death was a result of malpractice. The two years and six months would begin from the date this information becomes available.

Ongoing Criminal Cases

If the defendant in a New York wrongful death case has a criminal case pending, grieving families may need to delay their claims. When a defendant already has a pending criminal case, the New York statute of limitations starts from the day the case ends- and lasts one year.

This gives the victim's loved ones enough time to file their lawsuit, even if the previous case surpasses the usual two-year limit.

When the Beneficiary is Under 18

In New York law, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases can be extended if the sole beneficiary of the claim is a minor- but only if they do not yet have a legal guardian appointed.

If there is no legal guardian, the two-year limit is delayed until they turn 18. The appointment of a legal guardian before that time would allow them to claim sooner, with the guardian as the representative. In that case, they would have two years from the date the guardian was appointed.

Claims Against a Public Entity

Wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits filed against a government entity or other public agency have a much shorter statute of limitations. Once a personal representative (someone intended to bring the claim forward) is appointed, a Notice of Claim must be submitted within 90 days.

Why Must Grieving Families Act Quickly to Pursue Compensation on Behalf of Their Loved One?

Why Must Grieving Families Act Quickly to Pursue Compensation on Behalf of Their Loved One?

Aside from the fact that the New York court puts a time limit on how long a family member has to bring forward a wrongful death lawsuit, it is vital to act quickly to maximize the chances of winning maximum compensation.

The mental anguish and pain that follows the tragic loss of a loved one can make it difficult to think about legal claims, but it is crucial not to wait too long. Witness memories fade, people relocate or change names, and it can be harder to establish the reliability of physical evidence with time.

Some possible damages to claim include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, loss of companionship, loss of financial support, and compensation for the pain and suffering caused. The sooner an attorney starts building the case, the more power they have to push for a high settlement out of court. For more information, reach out to Long Island wrongful death lawyers.

What Can a Surviving Family Member Claim?

Seeking compensation may not be the first thing on a person's mind once they lose a loved one to negligence, but bringing in an expert attorney early in the process is an important step.

Work with a Leading New York Wrongful Death Attorney at the Law Office of Carl Maltese

Don't let the wrongful death of a loved one slip by unanswered. There are two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit- and the sooner, the better.

Contact the elite, dedicated, and passionate legal minds at the Law Office of Carl Maltese to arrange a free consultation to discuss a case today.


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